Tuesday, October 19, 2010


By: Kassim Ahmad

The Medina Charter, written and promulgated by Prophet Muhammad for the multi-religious ten thousand-strong citizens of the city-state of Medina in 622 AD, is truly a remarkable political-constitutional document. The claim made by Professor M. Hamidullah that it was the first written constitution[1] in the world is not without basis. Aristotle's Constitution of Athens [2], written on papyrus, discovered by an American missionary in Egypt in 1890 and published in 1891, was not a constitution. It was an account of the constitution of the city-state of Athens. Other legal writings on the conduct of ancient societies have been found, but none can be described as a constitution. The Medina Charter is the first, and in this it preceded the American Constitution of 1787, considered by Western authorities as “a landmark document of the Western world … the oldest written national constitution in operation”[3] by more than a thousand years! It also preceded the English feudal bill of rights, the Magna Carter of 1215, by almost six centuries!

Not only is the Medina Charter important in the sense that it is the first written constitution, it is also modern in the sense that it was promulgated for a plural society, giving equal rights to every citizen as well as giving them a say in governmental matters.

Considering all these, it is amazing that those Muslim leaders and writers who talk and write about the Islamic state seldom refer to this important seminal political document of Islam.

It is to be remembered that Muhammad had become a prophet, reciting God’s revelations to his fellow-Meccans, for twelve years before he and his followers migrated to Yathrib, two hundred and ten miles to the north of Mecca. There was going to be another ten years to his mission before he completed the delivery of the Divine message to the Arabs and to mankind in God’s final scripture, the Quran. So this Medina Charter was provisional in the sense that it could not contain all the provisions of statecraft contained in the Quran. Yathrib was later to known as “The City of the Prophet,” or simply Medina. The reason for the migration was the growing opposition of the Quraisy aristocracy to his teachings and the receptive attitude shown by some Yathrib pilgrims to Mecca at this time.

The whole text of the Charter has been reproduced, word for word, by Ibn Ishaq and Abu Ubaid in their respective books from the original preserved by Ibn Abi Khithamah.[4]

The Charter consists of 47 clauses, but due to different numbering, Prof. Hamidullah counts it to be 52.[5] Clauses 1, 2 and 39 state the formation of a sovereign nation-state with a common citizenship, consisting of various communities, principally Muslim Arabs from Mecca (the Muhajirin or Immigrants), Muslim Arabs from Yathrib (the Ansar or Helpers), other monotheists form Yathrib (i.e. the Jews) and others who must be at that time still pagans. These constitute a unified citizenry (Arabic term, ummah), having equal rights and responsibilities, as distinct from other peoples.

It should not escape anyone’s notice that these two clauses established the first modern nation-state in the world. Although Medina was just a city, its Charter was to last until the beginning of the Umayyad Dynasty in 1661. Western historians cite the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648 as the beginning of the modern nation-state era.[6]

The Charter provided a federal structure with a centralized authority, with the various tribes in various districts constituting a unit and enjoying autonomy in certain matters of a social, cultural and religious character. Provision for this district autonomy is repeated for each district. (Clauses 3 through to 11 and 26 through to 35) In fact, many matters were left in the hands of the autonomous units, except state security and national defense. (Clauses 17, 36 (a) and 47) Provisions for these centralized subjects are made in Clauses 13, 15, 17 and 44. Only in cases of disputes the units could not resolve, recourse for their decisions had to be made to the Prophet, whose decision was final (Clauses 23 and 41).

As Prof. Hamidullah rightly stated, “… this new constitution … brought with it very important, and to Arabia at least, very revolutionary change and improvement, by providing the people with a central public institution for seeking justice, in place of everyone seeking it with the power of his own hand or, at best, that of his family. This epoch-making innovation … brought an end for all times to the chaos of tribalism and which laid the basis for a wider institution, viz a State.”[7]

It should be noted that this loyalty to the State by its plural citizenry constituted a form nationalism, or more exactly a patriotism, that is approved by Islam, contrary to what some modern Muslim ideologues would assert. It is in line with the teaching in the Quranic verse, “Oh! People! We created you from the same male and female, and rendered you into distinct peoples and tribes that you may recognize one another. The best of you in the sight of God is the most righteous.”[8]

There were twenty districts, each with a chief (naqib), deputy chief (`arif) and meeting place (saqifah). The city at this time had a population of about ten thousand. Of these, the Muslims made up only a few hundred; half of the rest were monotheist Jews, the rest being polytheists.[9]

It is noteworthy that the Charter ordained equality to its members and protected them against oppression (Clause 16). The State proclaimed the brotherhood of believers and gave each one a right and support to give protection to any individual, excepting an enemy (Clause 15). It also extended help to its members in debt or in financial difficulties in regard to payment of ransom or blood-money (Clause 12). It prohibited help or refuge to be given to a murderer (Clause 22).

A very important human right is given in Clause 25 where freedom was guaranteed for each community to practice its own religion. The implication of this clause is that each individual was also free to choose his or her religion, in line with the clear teachings of the Quran.[10]

Another important principle of statecraft is consultation with the people in all matters. This is stated in Clause 37(a). Unlike in modern democratic polity, the voice of the people, vox populi, regardless of whether that voice represents right and truth or not, is given the highest value. This is a basic flaw in Western democracy. Another important principle of just governance is that no quarter is given to an injustice or wrong-doing. In the Charter, this is stated in Clause 47.

As stated above, this constitution is Muhammad’s ijtihad (intellectual
effort) at formulating a constitution when he was confronted with the task of administrating the city-state of Medina. At this time, he had not yet received the full Quran. He had therefore to fall back on customs and precedents, and he did. In any case, all constitutions are provisional in the sense that it must be adapted to changing times.

A trace of Arab tribalism can be detected in two clauses where a member together with his family were to be punished because of a crime he committed (Clauses 25 and 36(b)). This clearly contradicts another clause which states that no evil-doer is punished except for the crime he commits (Clause 46).

Perhaps, in the light of present Muslim interest in an “Islamic state,” we should point out that this important constitutional document of Islam does not anywhere use the term “Islamic state” or “Islamic society.” The major principles governing an Islamic society are, of course, present, like justice, brotherhood and unity of believers, unity and cooperation among citizens, freedom of religion, strict adherence to pacts entered into between parties, cooperation to do good and to prevent evil, encouragement for high moral conduct, and consultation as a method of government. It is interesting to note that what has been called “Hudud laws,” being part of Islamic Law, is also nowhere mentioned in the document.

It should be noted that the Charter, this first Islamic political-constitutional document, was given to the people of Medina in the name of Muhammad the Prophet (Clause 1) and also in the name of God as well as Prophet Muhammad (Clause 47). Why two different ways of phrasing the ultimate source of power? It is to be remembered that during the Western Middle Ages, the Church ruled supreme in the name of God, and God’s name was, of course, much misused by hypocrites and opportunists. The modern Western practice of replacing God with the people has, of course, not helped matters very much. In the name of the people, oppression, wars, colonialism and aggressions have been launched.

Thus even in this modern age of science and technology mankind cannot ignore a power that is greater than itself. Mankind has an autonomous right to live, and to live happily, but he must do that in a lawfully created Universe. It is in this sense that the Charter was given in the name of Muhammad the Prophet, who represented the principle of good and reason, which is higher than the individual man. Likewise in Clause 47, God’s name was put first, as God represents the highest Good and the highest principle of reason. This is necessary to conduct Man to higher and ever higher achievements.


THE Medina Charter [11]

In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

(1) This is a document from Muhammad the prophet (governing the relations) between the believers and Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib, and those who followed them and joined them and laboured with them.
(2) They are one community (umma) to the exclusion of all men.
(3) The Quraysh emigrants according to their present custom shall pay the bloodwit within their number and shall redeem their prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers.
(4-8) The B. ‘Auf according to their present custom shall pay the bloodwit they paid in heatheism; every section shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers. The B. Sa ida, the B. ‘l-Harith, and the B. Jusham, and the B. al-Najjar likewise.
(9-11) The B. ‘Amr b. ‘Auf, the B. al-Nabit and the B. al-‘Aus likewise.
(12)(a) Believers shall not leave anyone destitute among them by not paying his redemption money or bloodwit in kindness.
(12)(b) A believer shall not take as an ally the freedman of another Muslim against him.
(13) The God-fearing believers shall be against the rebellious or him who seeks to spread injustice, or sin or anmity, or corruption between believers; the hand of every man shall be against him even if he be a son of one of them.
(14) A believer shall not slay a believer for the sake of an unbeliever, nor shall he aid an unbeliever against a believer.
(15) God’s protection is one, the least of them may give protection to a stranger on their behalf. Believers are friends one to the other to the exclusion of outsiders.
(16) To the Jew who follows us belong help and equality. He shall not be wronged nor shall his enemies be aided.
(17) The peace of the believers is indivisible. No separate peace shall be made when believers are fighting in the way of God. Conditions must be fair and equitable to all.
(18) In every foray a rider must take another behind him.
(19) The believers must avenge the blood of one another shed in the way of God.
(20)(a) The God-fearing believers enjoy the best and most upright guidance.
(20)(b) No polytheist shall take the property of person of Quraysh under his protection nor shall he intervene against a believer.
(21) Whoever is convicted of killing a believer without good reason shall be subject to retaliation unless the next of kin is satisfied (with blood-money), and the believers shall be against him as one man, and they are bound to take action against him.
(22) It shall not be lawful to a believer who holds by what is in this document and believes in God and the last day to help an evil-doer or to shelter him. The curse of God and His anger on the day of resurrection will be upon him if he does, and neither repentence nor ransom will be received from him.
(23) Whenever you differ about a matter it must be referred to God and to Muhammad.
(24) The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war so long as they are fighting alongside the believers.
(25) The Jews of the B. ‘Auf are one community with the believers (the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs), their freedmen and their persons except those who behave unjustly and sinfully, for they hurt but themselves and their families.
(26-35) The same applies to the Jews of the B. al-Najjar, B. al-Harith, B. Sai ida, B. Jusham, B. al-Aus, B. Tha'laba, and the Jafna, a clan of the Tha‘laba and the B. al-Shutayba. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. The freedmen of Tha ‘laba are as themselves. The close friends of the Jews are as themselves.
(36) None of them shall go out to war save the permission of Muhammad, but he shall not be prevented from taking revenge for a wound. He who slays a man without warning slays himself and his household, unless it be one who has wronged him, for God will accept that.
(37) The Jews must bear their expenses and the Muslims their expenses. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. They must seek mutual advice and consultation, and loyalty is a protection against treachery. A man is not liable for his ally’s misdeeds. The wronged must be helped.
(38) The Jews must pay with the believers so long as war lasts.
(39) Yathrib shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document.
(40) A stranger under protection shall be as his host doing no harm and committing no crime.
(41) A woman shall only be given protection with the consent of her family.
(42) If any dispute or controversy likely to cause trouble should arise it must be referred to God and to Muhammad the apostle of God. God accepts what is nearest to piety and goodness in this document.
(43) Quraysh and their helpers shall not be given protection.
(44) The contracting parties are bound to help one another against any attack on Yathrib.
(45)(a) If they are called to make peace and maintain it they must do so; and if they make a similar demand on the Muslims it must be carried out except in the case of a holy war.
(45)(b) Every one shall have his portion from the side to which he belongs.
(46) The Jews of al-Aus, their freedmen and themselves have the same standing with the people of this document in purely loyalty from the people of this document.Loyalty is a protection against treachery. He who acquires aught acquires it for himself. God approves of this document.
(47) This deed will not protect the unjust and the sinner. The man who goes forth to fight and the man who stays at home in the city is safe unless he has been unjust and sinned. God is the protector of the good and God-fearing man and Muhammad is the apostle of God.


[1] The First Written Constitution in the World, Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, 1968. First published in England, 1941.
[2] Translated by Frederic G. Kenyon, Internet. !996 The Avalon Project.
[3] The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1991.
[4] The First Written Constitution in the World, p. 9. The translation of the whole text for A. Guillaume's Life of Muhammad is appended at the end.
[5] Ibid., pp. 19-20.
[6] The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1991.
[7] The First Written Constitution, p. 18.
[8] Quran, 49:13.
[9] Ibid., pp. 12-13.
[10] “There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinguished from the wrong way.” (2:256) Note that this statement of complete religious freedom comes immediately after the grandest statement of God's power to be found in any scripture. It is indeed significant!
[11] This text is taken from A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad -- A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 1955; pp. 231-233. Numbering added.
posted by Kassim Ahmad @ 8:34 PM 0 comments

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dari Rusia ke Malaysia

Dari Rusia ke Malaysia

DENGAN Rusydi mahasiswa UM.

Pada tahun 1970, persis 40 tahun lepas, saya dalam rombongan pertama pelajar Rusia untuk julung-julung kali tinggal di Malaysia sebagai penuntut Universiti Malaya. Ini menjadi mungkin kerana berkat usaha Perdana Menteri Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, hubungan diplomatik ditubuhkan pada 1967 dan perjanjian pertukaran mahasiswa ditandatangani. Semenjak itu banyak peristiwa berlaku dan akhirnya saya datang ke Malaysia lagi sebagai pensyarah Fakulti Bahasa dan Linguistik. Maka kenangan manis 40 tahun lalu hidup semula.
Kapal terbang mula mendarat. Jantung berdebar kencang. Inikah Malaysia? Tertanya-tanya kami di dalam hati. Nak mencubit diri supaya yakin bahawa ini bukan mimpi.
Bayangkan sahaja, sebelum ini kamu hanya mengenali Malaysia daripada cerita J. Conrad, S. Maugham, Usman Awang, Kris Mas, catatan beberapa orang pengembara serta lagu seorang penyanyi Rusia, Vertinsky yang lama tinggal di Singapura. Satu dua minit lagi kami akan menyaksikan segala-galanya dengan mata kepala sendiri. Dan selepas melangkahi anak tangga terakhir kapal terbang itu kami menginjakkan kaki di bumi Malaysia.
Tiba-tiba kami dikelilingi oleh para wartawan. Dengan mengetik kamera dan menulis sesuatu dalam buku catatan mereka mengepungi kami dan menghujani kami dengan pelbagai soalan. Siapa kami? Di mana kami belajar? Apa nak buat di Malaysia? Dari mana tahu bahasa Melayu? Temu bual menjadi rancak dan bersahaja. Kami berasa selesa berada di tengah-tengah orang Malaysia yang tidak lokek dengan senyuman dan baik hati.
Keesokan harinya Malaysia dikejutkan dengan kedatangan kami. Tajuk akhbar-akhbar setempat menjolok mata: ''Dari belakang tirai besi untuk menuntut ilmu'', ''Wah, alangkah fasihnya bahasa Melayu mereka'', '''Mahasiswa pertama dari Rusia''.
Kehidupan di Universiti Malaya begitu rancak dan menarik. Kemunculan kami mendapat perhatian. Dalam masa rehat antara kuliah, para mahasiswa mendekati kami berkenalan dengan begitu bersahaja, memulakan percakapan yang sering berubah menjadi perdebatan. Kami saling bertukar-tukar pendapat mengenai beberapa masalah antarabangsa.
Penuntut yang mempelajari bahasa Rusia amat berminat untuk mendalami pengetahuan tentang Rusia. Atas daya usaha mereka diadakan Malam Bahasa Rusia. Pada malam itu kami bercakap dengan mereka dalam bahasa Rusia, membacakan sajak penyair Rusia serta menari bersama-sama dan menyanyikan lagu Katyusya dan Malam dekan Moscow. Perhatian terhadap kehidupan di negeri kami sedemikian besar sehingga atas permintaan Persatuan Bahasa Melayu Universiti Mala (PBMUM) kami mengadakan forum Rusia hari Ini. Dewan kuliah A yang boleh memuatkan 300 orang penuh sesak. Dalam forum itu hadir penyair terkenal Usman Awang dan Abd. Latif Mohidin. Kami menceritakan tentang tatanegara Rusia, masalah perkauman, kehidupan orang Islam, sistem pendidikan, bahkan berdebat dengan Anwar Ibrahim (waktu itu juga mahasiswa UM) yang mendakwa bahawa penganut agama Islam d Rusia tertindas.
Saya ikut serta dalam rombongan tarian Melayu dan bahkan pernah terlibat dalam persembahan kesenian di Dewan Tuanku Canselor (DTC) pada malam amal siswa. Naib Canselor ketika itu Ungku Aziz menyaksikan persembahan itu dan menepuk kuat.
Semasa cuti panjang, kami menyertai pasukan perkhidmatan mahasiswa UM ke kampung Tanjung Pahang Tua. Kumpulan kami yang terdiri daripada 10 orang benar-benar bersifat antarabangsa: lima Melayu, dua China, seorang India dan dua orang Rusia. Dengan cara ini kami dapat mengenali budaya hidup di kampung di samping meningkatkan lagi kemahiran berbahasa Melayu. Kampung Pahang Tua baru mengalami banjir. Tanaman padi dan haiwan ternakan musnah. Penduduk kampung terpaksa memulakan segala-galanya semula.
Saya tidak akan melupakan perkenalan pertama dengan sawah. Di sinilah kami mencangkul tanah untuk membuat parit. Selepas duduk di kampung selama sebulan dan menyaksikan kerja petani Melayu, kami amat menghormati mereka. Kami juga sering dijemput menyambut perayaan keluarga, upacara perkahwinan atau pun berkhatan. Di sinilah kami dapat melihat adat istiadat Melayu dengan lebih dekat lagi.
Semasa tinggal bersama keluarga angkat, kami diberi nama Melayu. Rakan saya Tatiana Dorofeeva diberi nama Azizah, dan saya dipanggil Abdullah. Alangkah simboliknya. Orang yang dilahirkan beribu-ribu batu jauhnya, di negara seberang lautan, tiba-tiba berjumpa, berkenalan dan saling menganggap satu sama lain sebagai saudara.
Apabila bermula cuti sekolah kamu mengelolakan kelas bimbingan untuk pelajar tempatan. Bayangkan terkejutnya seorang jurukamera RTM yang datang ke kampung Pahang Tua, melihat seorang gadis Rusia berbaju kurung mengajar bahasa Inggeris di bawah pokok mangga yang rendang. Semangat belajar di kalangan siswa ini begitu besar. Mereka dahaga akan ilmu pengetahuan.
Setelah sebulan kami terpaksa pulang. Berat hendak berpisah dengan orang kampung yang menjadi sahabat baik kami. Ramai daripada mereka tidak memendamkan rasa sedih dan menangi apabila bas kecil kami meninggalkan kampung. Terima kasih banyak, sahabat kami di Pahang Tua, anda selalu hidup dalam ingatan kami.
Pada dinding bilik saya di Moscow tergantung potret lelaki berbaju Melayu tersenyum memandang saya. ''Siapa dia itu? Mengapa potretnya ada di sini?'' sahabat saya bertanya. ''Fasal....'' dan untuk ke sekian kalinya saya mengisahkan kenangan tinggal di Malaysia.
Di UM kami berkenalan dengan Khazin. Pada hari raya aidilfitri dia menjemput saya menziarahi rumahnya dekat Klang. Ayahnya guru agama Islam. Hingga larut malam kami berbual. Saya mengisahkan tanah air saya, jabanah Moscow, kitab al-Quran, seorang khalifah Arab yang dulu dirampas oleh kerajaan Tsar daripada kaum Muslim Tsar daripada kaum Muslim Tashkent dan dikembalikan kepada mereka selanjutnya dengan dekri khusus kerajaan.
Kita berpisah sebagai sahabat baik. Saya ingin membalas budinya dengan menghadiahinya sesuatu yang akan selalu membuatnya mengingati pertemuan kami. Saya menulis surat kepada sahabat saya di Tashkent supaya mengirimkan kepada saya senaskhah kitab al-Quran yang cantik.
Sekali saya ke rumah kecil tidak jauh dari Klang itu. Adik beradik Khazin menyongsong hendak menemui saya. Ayahnya menyambut kedatangan saya, mempersilakan saya duduk di atas tikar. Saya menghulurkan al-Quran itu kepadanya, Dia mengambil air sembahyang, mencium huruf emas yang suci di kulit kitab itu, dan dengan berhati-hati membukanya. ''Al-Quran, al-Quran dari Rusia'' - bisiknya terima kasih banyak-banyak. Selepas itu dia mengambil potretnya yang tergantung pada dinding rumahnya dan menghulurkan kepada saya, ambillah ini, sahabat rusia untuk kenang- kenangan'' ujarnya. Itulah potretnya yang amat berharga bagi saya.

Link: Utusan Online

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Universiti kita ketandusan idea - Utusan Online

Universiti kita ketandusan idea

PENGUMUMAN THE World University Ranking 2010-2011 dengan data yang dibekalkan oleh Thomson Reuters baru-baru menunjukkan kedudukan universiti-universiti tempatan tidak memberangsangkan. Sepuluh universiti terbaik di dunia sekali lagi didominasi oleh Amerika Syarikat dan Britain.

Tamadun Eropah, khususnya suku Anglo-Saxon mendahului kecemerlangan universiti dengan Harvard University di tempat yang teratas, diikuti California Institute of Technology di tempat kedua, Massachussetts Institute of Technology (3), Stanford University (4), Princeton University (5), University of Cambridge dan University of Oxford (masing-masing 6) University of California, Berkeley (8), Imperial College, London (9) dan Yale University (10). Tidak ada universiti Malaysia berjaya menduduki tempat 200 pertama.

Korpus ilmu yang yang tersimpan dan dijana oleh pusat metropolitan Barat tiada tandingannya. Apakah kita masih berhasrat bersaing dalam penarafan Universiti Times Higher Education (THE) ini? Ada kalangan mengatakan bahawa kaedah yang digunakan itu tidak mengambil kira keadaan negara dan misi universiti di dunia bukan Barat.

Ada juga pemimpin universiti tempatan menyatakan mereka akan memperbaiki proses dan perjalanan universiti. Siapa tidak bangga melihat universitinya menduduki tempat teratas? Dan kenapa sedih jika itu tidak berlaku?

Di sini, saya ingin menimbulkan sebahagian yang wujud di kalangan universiti-universiti global tersebut, dan apa yang menjadikan mereka 'global.' Salah satunya ialah institusi-institusi pengajian tinggi seperti Harvard University, Yale University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge dan Massachussetts Institute of Technology telah mengekalkan dan memperkasakan kecemerlangan bidang-bidang sains sosial, dan ilmu kemanusiaan, termasuk falsafah.

Sedangkan universiti-universiti di Malaysia mengenepikan dan mengabaikan pengajian tersebut. Malah di antara kira-kira 60 buah universiti di Malaysia, kurang dari lima mempunyai Jabatan/Bahagian Sejarah; dan tiada ada Jabatan Falsafah. Jika begitu keadaannya, bagaimana dapat kita mengajar pelajar kita berfikir dan bersoal; bagaimana dapat ahli akademik kita melahirkan keaslian pemikiran dan idea?

Universiti-universiti di Malaysia ketandusan idea dan saluran penebaran idea tersebut, walaupun ada yang mempunyai penerbitan universiti masing-masing.

Kita ambil satu contoh iaitu penerbitan ilmu oleh Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT) di Amerika Syarikat. MIT mempunyai School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences dengan mengendalikan 22 disiplin, projek, dan bidang pengajian penyelidikan. Antara bidang-bidang yang ditawarkan ialah Sejarah, Falsafah, Ekonomi, Penulisan dan Kajian Humanistik, Media Perbandingan dan Pengajian Antarabangsa.

MIT mempunyai penerbitannya sendiri yang diasaskan pada 1926 apabila ia memulakan penerbitan siri syarahan dari seorang pemenang Hadiah Nobel. Bahagian penerbitan jurnal akademik ditambah pada 1968. Setakat ini, ia telah menerbitkan lebih 10,000 tajuk buku, dengan lebih 200 tajuk buku dan 40 tajuk jurnal setiap tahun.

Walaupun jumlah tersebut nampaknya tidak menakjubkan, nilai korpus ilmu yang diterbitkan itu telah mempengaruhi pemikiran tamadun moden. Lihat saja katalog MIT Press serta kritikan dan ulasan buku-buku tersebut di seluruh dunia.

MIT Press khususnya menerbitkan buku dalam bidang-bidang Seni dan Senibina, Sains Kognitif, Ekonomi, Media Baru dan Sains, Teknologi dan Masyarakat. Tajuk-tajuk jurnal yang diterbitkannya berbunyi seperti Asian Economic Papers, Daedalus, Innovations, Journal of Cold War Studies, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Leonardo, Leonardo Music Journal, Linguistic Inquiry, dan Perspectives on Science.

Walaupun 10 universiti terunggul itu mempunyai sejarah dan asal-usul yang berbeza, namun tunjang mereka ialah penerbitan dan kegunaan ilmu, pemikiran dan kemahiran bagi penerokaan alam-alam yang wujud, menangani dan menyelesaikan masalah-masalah kemanusiaan dan peningkatan taraf hidup.

Saya bukan mengandaikan bahawa kita tidak mempunyai falsafah sedemikian, tetapi kesedaran, iltizam dan keupayaan kita menyedari falsafah sedemikian tidak terlihat dalam wacana-wacana yang sepatutnya terbit dari universiti-universiti tempatan.

Saya khuatir, sindrom pemikiran tertawan telah menguasai masyarakat universiti kita. Pemikiran tertawan berlawanan dengan kreativiti, inovasi dan menungan. Ia disifatkan sebagai satu cara berfikir yang imitatif dan tidak kritikal.

Sebenarnya, pemikiran tertawan mengandaikan bahawa senarai universiti yang terbaik di dunia mencerminkan pengukuran dan kebenaran apa yang dilakukan oleh institusi pengajian tinggi. Jawapannya sekali gus 'ya' dan 'tidak.'

Bukan mudah mendapat akses kepada pengendalian sesebuah universiti itu. Sudah tentu kita telah mencerap seni bina dan persekitaran fizikal institusi pengajian tinggi di Barat. Mereka dari kalangan pemimpin universiti, profesor dan pembuat dasar juga telah melawat lalu berinteraksi dengan pemimpin 10 universiti terunggul itu. Ramai juga yang belajar di sana. Apa yang kita telah ketahui dan apa yang tidak kita ketahui?

Mungkin kita hanya mengukur kualiti seseorang ahli akademik itu berdasarkan kuantiti penyelidikan dan penerbitan, serta jumlah paten. Universiti kini menggunakan KPI (Petunjuk Prestasi Utama) dalam mengukur kemajuannya menjurus kepada hasrat disenaraikan pada kedudukan yang paling tinggi, 10 atau 100 pertama.

KPI adalah satu pendekatan pengukuran penerbitan intelektual yang mengekang dan membantutkan perkembangan bidang-bidang Sains Sosial dan Ilmu Kemanusiaan itu sendiri. Ia membunuh pemikiran dan kreativiti.

Sarjana dan budiman di universiti dihimpit oleh universiti yang berfungsi sebagai kilang, dengan persekitaran dan iklim di kampus tidak ubah seperti persekitaran di kilang. Universiti bukan kilang dan ahli akademik bukan operator kilang yang terpaksa memenuhi sasaran setiap hari.

Ahli akademik tidak bekerja dari pukul 9 pagi hingga 5 petang. Ahli akademik bekerja 24 jam sehari. Penyelidikan dan penulisan tidak bermula atau berakhir pada sesuatu waktu yang ditetapkan. Imajinasi sosiologis dan kreativiti merentasi jam waktu.

Nilai-nilai dan amalan kini tidak memupuk hasrat menjadikan universiti-universiti kita terunggul di dunia. Istilah 'prestasi' tidak wujud dalam persekitaran universiti. Profesion akademik tidak memerlukan konsep 'prestasi.' Nilai kesarjanaan diukur dengan nombor dan kuantiti. Apakah keupayaan dan hikmah dalam menilai kesarjanaan itu telah luntur di kalangan profesor dan ahli akademik universiti tempatan sehinggakan boleh diibaratkan bahawa telah tidak ada lagi jauhari yang mengenal manikam? Apakah kesarjanaan telah terhakis dari sistem universiti kita?

Saya perhatikan dalam keghairahan kita menerbit jurnal yang tersenarai dalam pangkalan data Thomson Reuters (dulunya ISI) dan Scopus, kita mengabaikan keaslian ilmu itu sendiri dan media penerbitan ilmu. Jika seseorang pensyarah atau sekumpulan akademik ingin memulakan sebuah jurnal dan mengharapkan artikel yang misalnya mencetus idea-idea dan wacana alternatif, hasrat itu tidak mungkin kesampaian.

Persoalan yang akan ditimbulkan ialah apakah guna menyokong dan menerbit artikel ke jurnal tersebut kerana ia tidak disenaraikan dalam pangkalan-pangkalan data yang diterima. Sikap para pensyarah kini ialah menerbitkan jurnal yang tersenarai dalam pangkalan data bagi memenuhi KPI bertujuan kenaikan gaji dan pangkat. Keikhlasan dicemari oleh sasaran yang ditetapkan.

Apakah akan terjadi kepada pertumbuhan kesarjanaan di Malaysia jika iltizam dan keikhlasan menerbitkan ilmu itu tidak diiktiraf? Dan tumpuan kepada jurnal-jurnal tersebut telah membentuk para pensyarah sebagai pekerja yang tidak berfikir dan tidak berupaya berfikir merentasi wacana.

Tidak ada istilah mengasaskan idea besar dan pemikiran agung. Keaslian ilmu dibantut. Tanpa berfikiran kritis, kita tidak dapat mencetuskan pemikiran dan idea asli. Ramai di antara pensyarah universiti hanya menggunakan teori, konsep dan andaian yang ada seolah-olah ia seperti dogma seolah ia bebas dari konteks sejarah, tamadun, budaya dan politik. Keadaan ini merentasi semua bidang pengajian daripada Sains, Teknologi dan Kejuruteraan sehinggalah kepada Sains Sosial dan Ilmu Kemanusiaan.

Apakah ini boleh disebut sebagai kelompongan pemikiran? Kita tidak juga berusaha membincang dan mengkritik idea-idea asal dan gagasan-gagasan besar. Jika kita masih berhasrat menjadi universiti global, kita perlu belajar satu lagi dari 10 universiti yang tersenarai itu. Semua universiti tersebut mempunyai Jabatan Falsafah yang mantap. Itulah pemikiran yang melonjak tamadun Barat ke tahap yang ada sekarang ini.

A. Murad Merican
Profesor Ilmu Kemanusiaan
Universiti Teknologi Petronas
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